Kiasma: Finland’s Museum of Contemporary Art


Located on a main street in the center of Helsinki, Finland, the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art is an eye-catching museum with a modern design.

The museum exhibits mainly contemporary art works and is also known by the name Kiasma, which means “intersection.”

In this article, I would like to introduce you to the Kiasma, where you can experience contemporary art in Finland.

What is Kiasma?

Kiasma is an art museum located in the city of Helsinki, the capital of Nordic Finland.

Located on Mannerheimintie, a busy main street, it is visited by many citizens and tourists every year.

Kiasma was built in 1998 by American architect Steven Holl.

The museum specializes mainly in contemporary art, with a collection of 8,000 works.

The museum also has a café inside the building, which serves as a place for Helsinki residents to relax and unwind.

The museum’s name, “Kiasma,” is a word you may not have heard before.

It is a biological term originally from Greek meaning “intersection.”

The area where the optic nerves of both eyes intersect is called kiasma.

Why use the term kiasma, a biological term that has nothing to do with architecture, for a museum of contemporary art?

The museum was named Kiasma not only to promote contemporary art, but also because of its theme of being a “crossroads” where various arts, cultures, and citizens can interact.

Designed by American architect Steven Holl

Steven Holl is an architectural designer based in New York State.

The Kiasma is considered his masterpiece.

Mr. Hall is such a prominent architect that he was named the best architect by Time magazine in the United States in 2001.

In addition to the Kiasma, he has designed student dormitories for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has worked extensively both nationally and internationally.

How Kiasma was completed

Let me explain how the Kiasma was born.

First, an architectural design competition was held in Helsinki in 1992.

The competition received 516 entries, many of which were submitted by architects from Finland and other Nordic countries.

The winner of the competition was Steven Holl from the United States.

He started construction in 1996, and two years later, in 1998, the Kiasma was completed.

The beautiful architectural design was also recognized in Finland, where it was awarded the Alvar Aalto Medal in the same year, 1998.

Inverted D-shaped curvilinear appearance

Designed by Steven Holl, the Kiasma has such a unique appearance that the exterior of the museum itself looks like contemporary art.

When the building is viewed from the front, the design is curvilinear, as if the letter D of the alphabet were inverted and then elongated.

The curving of the exterior was inspired by the orbit of the sun.

Simple interior space with lots of white

Due to the curving structure of the building, there are many curved pathways such as ramps and spiral staircases inside the museum.

The museum also makes extensive use of a stairwell to maximize the use of the space above and below.

On the other hand, the interior of the museum is calm and relaxed in contrast to the contemporary artworks on display.

The white color scheme is simple and sophisticated.

In addition, the designer, Mr. Hall, specializes in architectural design that incorporates natural light.

This museum, too, is designed with skylights that allow sunlight to stream in.

The space with sunlight illuminating the dazzling white walls gives a feeling of elegance and comfort.


The Kiasma in Finland was built in 1998 and specializes in contemporary art.

It was designed by American architect Sweden Hall.

The museum’s name, Kiasma, means “intersection” in Greek.

As the name suggests, the museum is one of Helsinki’s leading art spots, where numerous art forms and citizens come and go.